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"Overwhelming Response" To Plans for GE Animals

"Overwhelming Response" To Plans for GE Animals

There has been an overwhelming response from the public to plans for commercialisation of GE animals in New Zealand, with 1722 submissions being received by ERMA on AgResearch's 4 applications.

The applications GMC 07012, GMD 08012, GMD 07074, GMF07001 seek to launch commercial production using GE animals, including 17 genuses of animals, nine of which will be farmed in the outdoors. The application also seeks to have commercial facilities located in farms around the regions undermining New Zealand's reputation and GE Free status in the commercial environment.

Many submitters have complained about the lack of detail in the applications that make it impossible to weigh up claimed benefits for specific products against ethical issues and animal suffering. Lack of information on alternative production systems already being used, and the damage to the New Zealand's economy has also raised serious concerns.

A Colmar Brunton Omnijet survey commissioned by The Soil and Health Association and animal-welfare group SAFE shows most New Zealanders oppose GE animals, with just 1 in 4 supportive of the plans. Most farmers also oppose the proposals.

The ERMA say they will now put together evaluation and review reports on all the submissions and a hearing is expected in April. However, GE Free NZ (in food and environment) has sought a High Court hearing on the applications calling into account the legal process leading to the advancement of AgResearch's plans through the approval system.

"At the close of submissions there was still no information other than generalities, for the interested public to make submissions on. ERMA must take seriously their duty to properly communicate the risk-issues around GE applications such as these and ensure that the New Zealand public can have their voice heard," said Claire Bleakley President of GE Free NZ in food and environment. "It is hoped that a possible hearing date can be set for the first week in March."


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